White and Brow Sugar Packets

Sugar – Nectar Or Poison?

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It’s fast becoming known as the worst thing we can put into our bodies. Sugar is extremely addictive and really very bad for us on so many levels.

It’s no secret that a little too much of the sweet stuff can wreak havoc on your body (and your teeth) if you’re over-indulging in refined sugars.

Most of us are STILL eating too much of it, despite the new food labelling laws and the research conclusions that sugar does actually feed cancer tumours.

Reducing sugar to lose weight and to lower the risk of disease are very “en-Vogue” topics right now, but why?

The harmful effects it can have on your physical health are well-reported, which is why we talk so much about it, but it’s also the dangerous impact sugar has on our mental health which we really need to take a look at.

The Sugar Rollercoaster

If your idea of coping with stress involves a carto of Ben and Jerry’s, there’s a good chance you know exactly what a sugar rush is.

While most people can get through the sugar rush and subsequent crash with minimal discomfort, there’s a large group of people who pay a huge price for eating too much sugar.

This is because consuming a large amount of processed sugar can trigger feelings of worry, irritability, and sadness; which can be double trouble if you also deal with depression or anxiety.

So Why Is This?

After eating too much sugar, the body releases insulin to help absorb the excess glucose in the bloodstream and stabilise blood sugar levels (see my other article “Why Have You Got The Moody Blues” here).

This is good and bad, you see a sugar rush makes the body work harder to get back to normal.  It’s this roller coaster of ups and downs, which can leave you feeling irritable, jittery, nervous and drained.

Sugar will only serve to exacerbate these symptoms if you have anxiety or depression.  Whilst it might not cause anxiety, it certainly does make it worse.

If you do suffer from anxiety, then you will probably already know how unhelpful it can be to binge on sugar.

The powerful rollercoaster mentioned above, and subsequent crash can worsen your anxiety.  Sugar also has a tendency to weaken your body’s ability to respond to stress, which can trigger your anxiety and thus prevent you from dealing with the cause of this stress.

Sugar and Depression

It’s hard to avoid reaching for the sweets, especially after a difficult day. And when you’re dealing with depression, sometimes food can serve as a form of self-medication.  But this vicious cycle of consuming sugar to numb your emotions will only make your symptoms of sadness, fatigue, and hopelessness worse.

Over consumption of sugar can trigger an imbalance in your Dopamine levels. Dopamine is a brain chemical. These imbalances can lead to depression and may even increase the long-term risk of developing a mental health disorder in some people.

Eating sugar gives your brain a huge surge of the feel-good chemical, Dopamine, which explains why you’re more likely to crave a chocolate bar or a doughnut at 3pm than a piece of fruit.

Because whole foods like fruits and veggies don’t cause the brain to release as much dopamine, your brain starts to need more and more sugar to get that same feeling of pleasure. This causes those cravings for that desert that are so hard to ignore.

Withdrawing From Sugar– Don’t Panic

When it comes to quitting processed sugar, many people recommend going cold turkey. But if you have a history of panic attacks, that might not be a good idea.

It’s not pleasant.

It can cause serious side effects, such as anxiety, irritability, confusion, and fatigue. This has led experts to look at how the withdrawal symptoms from sugar can resemble those of certain drugs.

Are You Zapping Your Brain Power?

Yes. You are.  Your stomach may be telling you to get down the sweet shop and consume your body weight in chocolate bars, but your brain has a different idea.

From the research I’ve read in loads of different articles about this and information from nutritionists, that consistent consumption of high sugar food and drinks such as fizzy drinks, sweets, and hidden sugars in every day pre-packaged foods, actually slows down your brain, inhibiting memory and learning.

This may impact learning and memory even possibly leading to Alzheimer’s, as well as the “sugar diseases”; diabetes, and heart disease.

Your Joints

If you have joint pain, there’s more reason to lay off the candy: Eating lots of sweets has been shown to worsen joint pain because of the inflammation they cause in the body. Plus, studies show that sugar consumption can increase your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

Your Skin

Sugar attaches to proteins in your bloodstream and creates harmful molecules called advanced glycation end products or “AGEs”.  Another side effect of sugar could be inflammation, which in turn may make your skin age faster. These molecules do exactly what it says on the tin: they age your skin. They have been shown to damage elastin and collagen in your skin, the protein fibers that keep your skin supple and youthful resulting in wrinkles and saggy skin.

Too Much Sugar, Your Liver, Your Pancreas & Diabetes

Let’s start with the Pancreas; when you eat, your pancreas produces insulin. If you’re eating too much sugar, your body stops responding properly to insulin, so it then starts pumping out even more insulin. After a while, if you overwork your pancreas it will break down and result in a rise in your blood sugar levels, which can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

When your liver becomes resistant to insulin of added sugar may cause to, an important hormone that helps turn sugar in your bloodstream into energy. This means your body isn’t able to control your blood sugar levels as well, which can also lead to type 2 diabetes.

Stevia and Xylitol are the sugar substitutes which bypass the Krebs Cycle, meaning they won’t give you the “sugar spike”.

Warning: Xylitol, a popular sugar replacement is DEADLY for dogs.

Juicy Lucy’s Tip:

I replaced ALL the sugar in my house with Coconut sugar. It’s better for you than refined sugar, although it would be better for you to remove refined sugars completely wherever possible.

What Vicky Says:

Generally, if you are craving sugar, you could be deficient in Magnesium or Chromium – you can get a good supplemented from www.revital.co.uk – speak to a nutritionist before self-prescribing. Lucy’s right above where she says that sugar feeds certain diseases.

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